My dad felt really far from me as a little girl, maybe because he actually was or maybe because when you are little everything feels big- like work travel and soul distance. I had a hard time shaking that feeling as it spilled over onto my heart over the years. I knew he loved me, but I don’t remember him knowing what I liked on my sandwich or my boy problems, or feeling a sense of relief from his care.

But every time we he was home or we were together, there was pure delight in his eyes for all of me. My teenage self could not quite reconcile the two, so I picked up brick by brick to build around my heart, I also grabbed some judgement to keep with me while I hid behind it. There was only black and white for me, no grays of life allowed…no understanding of how a difficult start in this world can shift and change you or how  hardships can make it hard to know how to connect with each other….how your cards are dealt and you play the best way you know how.

So my dad held tight to love and delight and brokenness while I held pain and anger.

It wasn’t until my own fall that I could see my dad and his love in a new way. It created a crack in my fortress. I was 19, completely in love with Jorge, and pregnant. Sleeping with your boyfriend (and irresponsibly), not to mention any sex before marriage was a HUGE no-no in my conservative growing up world, with much shame and guilt…and secrets. He may have never even known any of it ever happened, but found a medical discharge paper from the miscarriage left in the car a week later.

He was worried, he didn’t know what the medical jargon meant, but he knew it wasn’t good. I was shocked by his response.

“Oh honey, you are just two kids in deep, deep love. It’s okay, you tell Jorge I wanna shake his hand and tell him I am sorry this all happened to you both.”  …and he hugged me.

Not a hint of judgement…or even disappointment…just pure, very unconditional love. I didn’t even know what to say. I held every flaw of his so close and now he was blowing mine away with the wind, leaving only love.

The redemption was profound. …and still it took time, but it had created a small space for love and time to heal me and to really see him. He called, I didn’t always return, he listened, he called again, taking one brick down at a time…and I realized his love for me had really never changed, it was always that pure, that kind…but the way we found each other did, our brokenness lead us to the same path. He never gave up.

I don’t really know if there is anyone else on the planet that loves me quite like my dad does, no one cheers and stands so boldly and loudly behind me…I am so grateful for his persistence and sheer joy for me. …and for all  I have learned from his love and life.

So here is the mission:

Write a love letter to your dad…tell the whole story, whether it was rocky or smooth, beautiful and old, whether he is dead or alive, thank him for what he taught you both from his goodness and from his broken places…or tell him what you wish it could have been, it all counts.

If you think he needs or would love to hear it, hide the letter in his pocket or jacket, or the glove compartment or on top of the credenza…or send it to your mom for her to hide it for you…

OR if you are not (or maybe never will be) ready to for that, hide the note in a newspaper or leave it on a park bench, coffee house or the hardware store…some dad (or son or daughter) will find it and know…and sit with you in that place for just a moment.

Thank you dads for loving us and caring, we honor you this weekend.

Feel free to share stories of your dad in the comments.